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13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

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10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

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Stop and search: Mayor's visit to Zeeburg backfires

7 May 2008 - Last night, Mayor Job Cohen, accompanied by an 'entourage' of policy advisors and 'policemen with shiny buttons', visited the Zeeburg district council. If anything, his visit only intensified opposition to his plans to introduce stop and search in the district.

Currently, stop and search operations are only permitted in parts of the inner city and Zuidoost. Cohen claims that crime figures are rising in the Transvaalbuurt (Oost) and Indische buurt (Zeeburg), and therefore wants to expand stop and search to these areas.

His plans have met with fierce opposition from residents, business owners and politicians in Zeeburg, who say that conditions in the Indische buurt are improving instead of deteriorating. They fear Cohen's plan will only harm the district's reputation. In Oost, the PvdA will discuss the plan tomorrow.

The large delegation that accompanied Cohen to the Zeeburg district council last night surprised some of the council members. His attempt to iron out difficulties may well backfire.

The local PvdA - fellow party members of Cohen - is considering to present a motion against the stop and search plan. Party leader Adri van den Dries further intends to tell his counterpart in the city council, Manon van der Garde, that her fellow party members in Zeeburg want nothing to do with the plan.

Last month, Van der Garde issued a statement supporting Cohen's plans to improve safety in the Transvaalbuurt. The statement was ambiguous on whether she supports the introduction of stop and search.

Zeeburg politicians have doubts about the crime figures presented by Cohen, which would indicate a rise in 'weapon incidents' in the district.

"When you hear the term 'weapon incident', you think of people brandishing a gun or a knife", says Astrid Kuiper, party leader of GroenLinks.   "But if the C1000 supermarket gives me a free asparagus knife with the asparagus I buy there, and I'm subsequently arrested and the police find the asparagus knife, then this apparently counts as a weapon incident too".

The PvdA finds the figures difficult to believe too. "Only about six weeks ago, the people at the Balistraat police station told us things are getting better in the Indische buurt", says Van den Dries. "I've never heard anyone say that safety is deteriorating".

Even the VVD, a party that in general supports stop and search, found Cohen's presentation unconvincing. "I'd expected something better from him, his arguments were weak", says party leader Dirk Hanke.

According to Van den Dries of the PvdA, D66 is the only party in Zeeburg to support stop and search. Party leader Erik Terheggen could not be reached today.

Photo from Jan de Laat website. Later this week on News from Amsterdam: are ethnic minorities more likely to be searched by the police?


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